Alumni Profiles

Latest Alumni Profiles

Chuanrong Zhang, Ph.D., 2004

Chuanrong Zhang graduated from UWM with a PhD in Geography in 2004. With her interests and experience in GIS, Chuanrong wrote a PhD dissertation, titled "GIS, Remote Sensing and Spatial Modeling for Conservation of Karst Landscape", which combined her expertise with Mick Day's contemporary interests in the Lunan Stone Forest, or Shilin National Park in Yunnan, China, which is one of the World's "classic" karst landscapes but which is also under increasing human pressures. She adopted an innovative and original approach, which revolved around internet-based decision-making combining geographic information in a GIS database with public inputs to optimize management decisions for the Stone Forest Protected Area. This approach was entirely groundbreaking, was at the cutting edge of applied karst studies, and made a significant contribution not only to physical geography and to landscape management studies but also to future theoretical developments and social science applications in GIS. Chuanrong joined UW-Whitewater as an Assistant Professor in 2004, moving to a similar position at Kent State University in 2006. In 2008 she was recruited by the Department of Geography and the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of Connecticut, and in 2010 she was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor at UConn. Her research interests have continued to develop and broaden, incorporating several aspects of GI Science and Systems, including cyberinfrastructure, geostatistics, remote sensing and spatial analysis and modeling. Since 2003, Chuanrong has authored or co-authored 35 professional publications in prestigious journals and has produced 11 book chapters and magazine contributions. Since 2005, Chuanrong has been involved in funded research totaling nearly $1.4 million. In 2009 Chuanrong received a Junior Faculty Award from UCGIS/ESRI and in 2012 she received the Group Service Award from CPGIS, the International Association of Chinese Professionals in GIS. (2012)

Harold Perkins, Ph.D., 2006

I completed my Ph.D. in 2006 and was hired as an assistant professor in the Geography Department at Ohio University. I was awarded tenure in the spring of 2012. I conduct research on the political ecology and economy of urban environments, particularly related to the production and consumption of parks, forests, and lakes. I use these urban amenities to understand how power flows through structures of urban governance within neoliberal capitalism. I’m also interested in the agency and political status of nonhuman organisms, particularly as they relate to urban political economy. I teach classes on urban environments, environmental justice, political geography, environmental geography, and the history of geographic thought, among others. My training in the Geography Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee prepared me well for conducting research and teaching. I look back fondly on my years living and studying in Milwaukee. (2012)

Falguni Mukherjee, Ph.D. 2009

Falguni Mukherjee

After completing my PhD degree in 2009, I joined Central Connecticut State University as Visiting Assistant Professor. In Fall 2010 I joined the Department of Geography and Geology at Sam Houston State University as Assistant Professor. I teach graduate as well as upper level undergraduate GIS courses here. I am looking forward to building collaboration with the local community here in Houston and expanding my research that would examine usage of GIS as well as other spatial technologies to address medical health issues. My colleagues here are very supportive. Houston is a fascinating city, very different from Milwaukee or Madison where I had envisioned myself living forever. But I guess life is all about change. My time spent as a doctoral student in the Geography department at UW–Milwaukee has taught me some very valuable lessons which I use at times when mentoring graduate students here at Sam Houston State University. I am very thankful to everybody in the Geography department at UW–Milwaukee who had been extremely supportive of me. (2012)

Sandra Zupan, Ph.D. 2010

Sandra Zupan

Since completing a Ph.D. degree in 2010, I have worked as a lecturer at the University of Kentucky (UK). Here in Lexington, with support of UK College of Arts and Sciences grants I launched a new exciting project - Social Justice/Faith Groups, Urban Homelessness and Spaces of Praxis: Lexington’s Catholic Action Center. This Lexington based research is part of my larger project examining how Catholic Worker Movement communities, a collection of over 100 houses of hospitality, address urban homelessness, poverty, and hunger through various forms of social and political engagement. Last month, I started a two-year term as a board representative of the AAG’s Urban Geography Specialty Group. (2012)

Wen Lin, Ph.D. 2009

Wen Lin

I recently joined the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University as Lecturer in Human Geography in February 2012. I am excited about participating in a team-taught class on key methods for human geographers next fall. I will be module leader for this second-year undergraduate module. I am also looking forward to expanding my research on geospatial technologies usage and developments to situate these practices in the UK context as well as collaborating with colleagues and local communities on related issues. Newcastle is an exciting and vibrant city in North East England, and I look forward to learning more about the fascinating landscapes. I plan to conduct some fieldwork in China this coming summer, as part of my ongoing project to examine how volunteered geographic information has been produced and the associated socio-political implications. (2012)

Alumni Profiles by Year of Graduation


Jeremia Njeru, Ph.D. 2008

I finished my PhD at UWM. I rented a small U-haul truck and headed to Morgantown, West Virginia, to get ready for my first teaching job at West Virginia University. This semester I am teaching only one class, Geography 425 - Urban and Regional Planning where I have 23 students. Next semester, I will be teaching two classes: Geography 108 - Introduction to Human Geography, and Geography 210 - Urban Geography. I am now also reviving my research from a long summer hiatus. I am revising my first dissertation paper, ready to be resubmitted to the Progress and Development Studies Journal. I am also serving on two faculty committees: the graduate studies committee and the search committee for a human geography position. (2008)

Parama Roy, Ph.D. 2008

I am teaching at Georgia State University. Given my interest in urban nature, race, and socioenvironmental justice, Atlanta, with its existing and future green elements (Belt-line) and racial and community gardening history, seems to present an exceptional opportunity for me to begin my academic research career. In my first semester, I spent much of my time preparing to teach, but as my advisors console, “that’s normal.” I am hopeful that I will start working on my papers and a new research project soon. Overall, Atlanta is a beautiful city.Broadway Street, in the downtown area, is closed every Friday for people to come and sit outside, enjoy, food, and listen to live music. My colleagues at Georgia State University have been very kind and supportive, but I miss Milwaukee and the geography department. I am thankful to all those wonderfully supportive people in my life. I feel grateful that I have been given the opportunity to live my dream. (2008)


Peter Strand, M.S. 2006

While attending UWM my time was split between School of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Geography Department. I was awarded my Certificate in GIS in 2005, followed by my MS from Geography in December of 2006. My time at UWM provided me with a foundation of GIS concepts and technical skills that I utilize every day in my position in Eau Claire County. I accepted the GIS Specialist position in the Department of Planning and Development in 2006. As Eau Claire County’s GIS Specialist, I am primarily involved in the design, development, and management of the county’s Geographic Information System. I administer and manage our GIS projects, overseeing the coordination of the real property records and permitting software and GIS advancements. Since starting with Eau Claire County, our land records have undergone significant changes. We have converted our parcel mapping into a digital format, changed software and platforms, and placed the information online for public access. (2008)


Carrie Czech, B.S. 2004

I worked for an ambulance company in Milwaukee after becoming a licensed Emergency Medical Technician through Gateway Technical College (2006-07). I went to Tanzania to assist Dr. McHenry with her fieldwork in the summer of 2007. Recently, I returned from Slovakia where I completed an intensive language program through the University of Pittsburgh and Comenius University (Bratislava) this summer. I am currently pursuing a M.S. in Geosciences at UWM. (Information dated: 2008)

Chuanrong Zhang, Ph.D. 2004

I am an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department and the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering at University of Connecticut. My current research is focused on development of GIS and geostatistical methods and their applications in natural resource management and environmental evaluations.(2008)


Sean Chenoweth, Ph.D. 2003

Sean has recently been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor at the University of Louisiana — Monroe. He had these kind words for his former advisor, Mick Day, “I want to thank you for helping me reach this goal... it has been an enjoyable ride that has just begun.” (2010)

Liana Escott, M.A. 2003

I am currently living in the City of La Crosse with my 5-year old son Nolan. We have been here for about three years, and he just started kindergarten this fall. I am employed as the Community Development Administrator for the City Planning and Development Department, where I work to revitalize central-city neighborhoods through the construction of new housing units, the rehabilitating of existing homes, and through developing and maintaining Neighborhood Centers, Senior Centers, Community Gardens, and City Parks. I have also continued to travel and explore and am planning a trip for Nolan and I to visit Peru in the coming year. (2008)


Derek Robinson, B.A. 2001

Currently I’m working for Pasco County Florida in the Stormwater Management Division as a GIS Analyst. I am responsible for the SDE Geodatabase that will house all of the collected data and all related aspects to the collection, such as routing, management of survey crews, and QA/QC of all the data. This collection effort is unique because we are not only getting Latitude and Longitude per structure (feature), but Elevation as well. This will give us the ability to start modeling our stormwater system accurately. It is quite a challenging position, as I have had to learn survey terminology and techniques, GPS collection, and water related GIS software like ArcHydro. As we move forward, the county plans on implementing a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) to help reorganize data, update, and track maintenance of all our assets from storm water, Utilities, and Public Works. I will be involved with that implementation as well. (2009)


Patrick Pittenger, B.A. 1994

I found my way to geography at UWM after deciding to pursue urban planning instead of social studies teaching, and it has worked out for the best. After getting my undergraduate degree from UWM in 1994, I earned an MS in Transportation Planning at Iowa State University in 1995. It was an interdisciplinary program, with course work in planning, engineering, and logistics.

Prof. Norm Stewart once told me that geographers had a tendency to be “jacks of all trades and masters of none,” and I applied that to my graduate work and career. I'm now the Transportation Manager for the consolidated City and County of Carson City. I work for the City's Public Works Department, but I get to run the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), be the transit director for the local transit system, and plan and build roads and bicycle/pedestrian facilities. The transportation field is a wonderful thing - it's very diverse and there's rarely a shortage of money and/or work. (2009)


Robert Ramraj, Ph.D .1990

I completed my Ph.D. in May under Dr. Mick Day's advisorship. My dissertation focused on the geomorphological/ climatological/economic/ environmental aspects of beach nourishment, dredging, and dredge disposal at Keewanee, WI in particular and the Great Lakes in general. After several one-year appointments at Millersville U and Kutztown U in PA, I eventually accepted a tenure-track position at Winston-Salem State U (WSSU) in NC. I often taught at UNC-Greensboro at both the graduate and undergraduate levels while at WSSU, and also at Elon U. WSSU has also awarded me the Bill Sheppard Teaching Excellence Award in 2002. Subsequently, WSSU's Social Sciences gave me an award for “dedication and excellent service to students, department and university.” UWM's rigorous interdisciplinary training permitted me to successfully conduct research and effectively teach a wide range of courses.

I have researched and published on such topics as dredging, disposal, environmental perception, and Guyana in journals including Journal of Coastal Research, Caribbean Geography and Guyana Journal. Ten years of library and field work in Guyana culminated in 2003 in the publication of my book Guyana: Population, Environments, Economic Activities.

Now semi-retired, I currently teach World Regional and Cultural Geog. every semester at Forsyth Technical College, two miles from my house in Winston-Salem NC. My current interests include integrating folklore into scholarly works of nonfiction. (2009)


Elaine Bliss, M.A. 1989

After graduating in 1989 I worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Milwaukee River Integrated Resource Management Plan. Since 1991 I have been living overseas, mainly in Australia and New Zealand. From 1992-93, however, I volunteered for UNICEF on a project titled “Children in Situations of Armed Conflict” in the Philippines. From 1993-95 I worked at the Australian National University as co-editor of “Development Bulletin,” a publication of the National Centre for Development Studies, and tutored in the Department of Geography. I have been tutoring/ lecturing in the Department of Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning at Waikato University in Hamilton, New Zealand, since 1995. I started a (interdisciplinary) PhD in 2006, and am jointly enrolled through Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning, and Screen and Media Studies at Waikato University. A tentative title for my PhD is “‘Placing’ Emotions through Digital Storytelling: Exploring New Methods in Geography.” Very happily interwoven into all this ‘professional stuff,’ I have given birth to, and am joyfully raising, two beautiful daughters, Zuleka (14) and Anya (9). (2008)


Mark Francek, Ph.D. 1988

I am a professor of geography at Central Michigan University. My research and teaching interests are in earth science education and I am the recipient of several NSF CCLI – A&E grants. In 2001, I won the University Distinguished Teaching Award, in 2002, Michigan Professor of the Year, in 2007, the Presidents’ Council for State Universities in Michigan's Distinguished Professor of the Year, and in 2008 the National Council for Geographic Education Distinguished Teaching Award. (2009)


Peter Urich, B.A. 1987 M.A. 1990

I am currently the Managing Director of CLIMsystems Ltd, which provides marketing, training, and data provision services for the International Global Change Institute of the University of Waikato, and provides high quality models, training, and related services to assist individuals, communities, and societies to effectively and efficiently manage the impacts of, and adaptation to, climate change. I received my PhD in Human Geography from the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. I also hold a diploma in agriculture from Guelph University in Canada. My work with rural economies and land managers across Asia and the Pacific and my publication record and affiliations across government and non government organizations and private industry have positioned me well to bring climate risk and impact assessment tools and technologies to a diverse array of end users.

I have recently implemented the development and delivery of customized climate change risk assessment tools for the Governments of Tonga and Vanuatu in the South Pacific. I am the project leader for the Southeast Queensland Climate Change Mapping Project. I am also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the climate change program at the University of the Sunshine Coast located in Queensland, Australia.(2008)


Robert Schwerer, B.A. 1986

My life became interesting after graduation in 1986. I took a vacation trip to Vienna, Austria, to visit family members. Upon my return, in February 1987 my roommate and I decided to load up our belongings in a U-haul truck and move to San Diego, CA. After one year of job bouncing and a (low salary) job offer from the National Geographic Survey in San Francisco I started employment with the City of San Diego. I began an apprentice program in water treatment and later became a Licensed California Water Operator. I worked 16 years with the city of San Diego and in that time I married a Belgian woman, started a family, and became comfortable with the warm climate. In 2005, my wife and I decided to move back to Wisconsin to be with family. My employment has been unsettled since returning, but I now am working for the City of Milwaukee, which is rapidly becoming recognized as a leader in water technology. I work at the Linnwood Water Treatment facility on Lincoln Memorial Drive, where Lake Michigan water is purified using Ozone as the primary disinfectant. (2008)


Margit Schatzman, B.A. 1982

Margit Schatzman

I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree from UWM in 1982 with majors in German and Geography. My plans to move to Washington DC to become a cartographer with a federal agency were sidetracked when my new husband, Stephen Bleksley, decided to study at UWM. I was committed to staying in Milwaukee for the duration of Stephen’s architecture education. At the end of the last recession of the early 1980s I felt lucky to find a research related job at a small international education nonprofit organization, called Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE). I was the seventh employee. ECE provides evaluations of foreign educational credentials for people wishing to study or work in the US, conducts research and provides training on applied comparative education for college and university admissions professionals in the US and internationally.

Over the years, I earned two more degrees at UWM (Master of Science in Cultural Foundations of Education and Master of Business Administration) and became the president of ECE. There are now 80 employees. I do interesting, meaningful work with a group of smart, creative and dedicated people. My geography education provided the perfect foundation for my work in international education. I travel quite a bit for work, which has allowed me to develop friendships with people in interesting parts of the world. From Belmopan to Bozeman, Nicosia to Nairobi, give me my malaria drugs and passport and I will go.

On the home front, Arthur was born in 1991, Eleanor in 1993 and Arwen in 1994. This Fall, Arthur is attending UWM to carry on the family Panther tradition. (2010)


Bill “Bushman” Reynolds, M.A. 1980

Bill Reynolds

After graduation, I moved first to Los Angeles, then to Kansas City, then to Chicago. I spent 25 years working in transportation planning for Chicago’s Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and in PACE, the Chicago regional bus system, serving as Principal Analyst for the RTA and Department Manager and Operations Analysis for PACE. The last 10 years focused on working with communities to build sustainable transit-oriented developments. I retired in 2008 and am now residing in Unitedville, Belize, Central America, where I own and operate the Lower Dover Field Station. My interests in Belize date back to a fieldwork course in 1984 with Mick Day and Norm Stewart. Any UWM geographers interested in visiting and experiencing Belize would be particularly welcome.

A recent visit to the field station by Dr. Jaime Awe, Director of the Belize Department of Archaeology, confirmed that Lower Dover is an important classic-era Mayan site and is much more extensive and sophisticated than had been previously recognized. The site may be the central component of a larger entity incorporating adjacent sites at Barton Ramie, Floral Park and Blackman Eddy, and may have rivaled nearby Cahal Pech (at present-day San Ignacio) in its socio-political status. Compared to other Belize River Valley sites, many of the structures, which include “temples,” sacbes (raised walkways) and chultuns (storage pits) are well preserved, and looting has not been extensive. Initial assessment of the site calls for a major reconsideration of the current prehistoric socio-political understanding of the Belize River Valley, and further archaeological work is scheduled for 2010. (2010)